The atmosphere this man brings to his experience is fantastic. A memoir? It’s more than that. It’s the feeling of his WW-1 flying life, and that all started when he was seventeen.
I enjoy reading stories. I like to be entertained and mystified. I draw the line at literature, however, because some books fail at the entertainment side and turn to a big mess of heady verbose vomit on the pages. On the other hand, where The Illiad is considered literature, I just found a B.S. High-School locker room squabble about stealing the other’s girlfriends. This book hits that sweet spot, drawing the reader in to the world of atmosphere and then really hits home with passages where I exclaimed loudly in my head, “Holy crap, this is actual understandable literature!” There are no locker room arguments about stealing a girlfriend in here.
I had previously read and enjoyed Diary Of An Unknown Aviator, detailing a fantastic journey of an American ww1 pilot who was shot down 30-miles inside of enemy lines. His diary was left behind with several google-worthy friends and it was published. In both of these books I really gained an understanding of the prevalent aviation ignorance. Only fifteen years passed from Wright Brothers flew with fragility in 1903 and then end of WW1 when somewhat reliable and rugged airplanes delivered reliable and ruggedly decisive death. So when group commanders demanded their pilots become skilled at ‘stunting’ close to the ground, it’s no wonder that many died foolishly or the next time they flew, wings would fall off randomly. Maintenance? Safety? What’s that?
None of that has been yet invented. But the survivors such as Cecil Lewis had the awareness of preservation and also just plain luck. Missing that bullet sent from the Huns by an inch or an engine holding together for another minute.
It’s only a few bucks on Amazon and worthwhile. I hope you enjoy it like I did.